Although our beautiful city seems relatively new in comparison to some down south, settlers actually began arriving here in the 1700s and there are plenty of heritage sites dotted around the place to prove it.
We’ve rounded up six of the most unique so you can spend the weekend brushing up on your local history. You’re welcome.
Matey Memorial, Surfers Paradise
You may have unknowingly had a selfie with this little guy but as a Gold Coast local, you should get familiar with Matey, the homeless dog who called the streets of Surfers Paradise home for over 12 years. He was a true Gold Coast icon befriending many tourists and locals as a loyal companion. Matey was mainly known for walking home revellers from Jim Cavill’s hotel during the 1940s and 1950s.
Where: Cavill Park, across from Melba’s, Surfers Paradise
Kirra Shelter Shed, Kirra
Kirra is home to one of the world’s most famous surf breaks, the Kirra Beach Pavilion (also heritage listed) and old school, iconic Gold Coast fibro beach shacks. While driving around the headland towards Cooly, you may have noticed the cute little shelter overlooking the ocean. It’s not only a great place to hide from the scorching sun, it’s also got some time on its back, over a century to be precise. Early photos of Kirra beach show the shelter in place by around 1916. The Kirra Shelter Shed makes for a great viewing platform and is the perfect spot to watch whales play out in the ocean.
Where: Kirra beach, Kirra
Maid of Sker, Nerang
Nerang was one of the Gold Coast’s founding suburbs so it’s no surprise a lot of heritage listed sites can be found there. One such site is the Maid of Sker, an old iron paddle steamer built in 1884, lying next to the Nerang River in Bischoff Park. From 1893 to the early 1930s it transported sugar cane and other produce up and down the Albert, Logan and Nerang rivers. The Maid of Sker is a great little history lesson on how things were back in the day.
Where: Bischoff Park, Nerang
The Pink Poodle neon sign, Surfers Paradise
The iconic Pink Poodle Motel built in 1967 along the Gold Coast Highway and Fern St drew many tourists (especially honeymooners) to the Gold Coast. One of its standout features in a time of motor travel was the brightly lit neon sign featuring a strutting pink poodle. The motel has since been demolished but the famous sign has been preserved and can now be found close to its original location on Fern Street. Tricky to get a selfie with, the sign has been immortalised on local t-shirt brand, The Undercurrent due to its importance to the Surfers Paradise community.
Where: Gold Coast Highway and Fern St, Surfers Paradise
St Augustine’s Church, Coolangatta
St Augustine’s Church in Cooly is the only church on the Coast resembling the Italian Romanesque style. The building opened in 1926 and was designed by J. P. Donoghue, changing the skyline in Coolangatta with its campanile of 110 feet (33 metres). For the local Catholic community, the church became the focus for both social and spiritual life, and continues to serve that purpose today.
Where: 42 O’Connor Street, Tugun
(Former) Tallebudgera Post Office, Tallebudgera
The old Tallebudgera Post Office is one of the oldest surviving buildings found on the Gold Coast today. It was built in 1878 and operated for almost a century until March 1958. This super cute building consists of a small, single roomed structure with a veranda at the front. It is constructed from timber in the style known as ‘board and batten’. You can find this historic site at
Where: 17 Trees Road, Tallebudgera
Words by Louisa von Ingelheim